Democracy and Nigeria are like Siamese twins; though conjoined, they are uncomfortable and under intense pressure that could result in all forms of hurt, even death. Although, democracy may not be strange to an overwhelming percentage of Nigerians; what is quite strange is that in Nigeria the power is with the government and not the people. Indeed, the most outstanding feature of Nigerian democracy is the mind boggling and unpardonable waste of public funds on the comfort of a few Nigerians. The democracy of waste practiced in Nigeria invests, first and foremost, in the comfort of officials rather than in human and material resources.
Although, Nigeria has produced nine written constitutions; it is yet to institutionalize democracy. This is because the problem is neither with the makers nor matters of the constitution; but the men who have the responsibility of operating the constitutions. To institutionalize democracy is to develop and strengthen the legal rational structures that would invariably strengthen and solidify democracy and the rule of law.
The term “we the people”, refers to the power of the people to collectively decide the modus-operandi of the nation; regrettably, that power no longer resides with the people. That power is now with the very few people that control the power machinery of government. In the past 6 years, the Nigerian people have found themselves in an unfortunate and ugly situation of civilian dictatorship to say the least. A nation where opposition has become the greatest crime in the land, with consequences not captured in the constitution. A country where press freedom and freedom of speech is only what the government says it is, with the state governors of the ruling party assuming the position of demi-gods. Political activists are under attack for speaking out on the state of the polity. Activist, Ndi Kato described Nigeria as a “country where politicians can create a crime that never existed and charge you with it and you’ll spend months and years trying to defend yourself to a biased justice system; because the crime does not even exist in the first place.”
In a conference back in 2017, the First Lady Aisha Buhari stated that ” over 13 million Nigerians voted for the president but the government has been hijacked by a few people; in other words, the mandate given the president has been stolen by the enemies of the people , maybe with the permission of the president. Individuals unknown to the people now decide the fate of the people and the economy without considering the effect and the damages to the society and the people. How can we in the right sense of judgment, call what is going on Nigeria “The government of the people”. This is by far the government of the rich, for the powerful and by the enemies of the people. The greatest power the people possess is the power to vote in who ever they deem fit in positions of governance, that power has since been taken away, to the point where the flag bearing is only but the face of the government.
One of the fundamental principles underlying the Nigerian constitutional process is that of the independence of the judiciary; this is no longer true. The supreme court has become a cash and carry super market, as corrupt machineries are put in place to overturn elections that are not in favor of the ruling party. Sadly, the people can’t fight back as military and para-military are used to scare the people away for the smooth operation of their political evil. The case of Imo State gubernatorial elections is perhaps the most notable case of stolen mandate by the supreme court, little wonder the pigeons for the state armed forces remembrance day refused to fly in protest. Nigeria is presently characterized by political and economic underdevelopment, it is generally considered constitutionally desirable that a viable contrivance such as the institutional separation of the judiciary from the other arms of the government is a necessary bulwark against all forms of political and social tyranny, administrative victimization and oppression. In other words, the freedom of the judiciary from any influence, whether exerted by the legislature or the executive, or even from the judiciary itself, which is capable of leading to any form of injustice, abuse, miscarriage of justice, judicial insensitivity or other court-related vices is of utmost importance. This is far from being achieved in Nigeria as the legislature continuously passes bills intended to restrict the judiciary from doing their job.
Seizing the people’s right to protest in Nigeria is the greatest political theft in the history of democracy anywhere in the world. In Nigeria today, protest is recognized by the government as a treasonable felony. The arrest of protesters and freezing of the accounts of people who do not agree with the government is a clear reflection of a fraudulent democracy.